Photo courtesy of IMSA

BMW’s new M6 gets first GTLM, GTD podiums at Sebring

Leave a comment

It wasn’t a win, but it was still a very good day at the office Saturday for BMW – which secured the first podiums for its new M6 GTLM and M6 GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes.

A double runner-up finish saw the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM in second in GTLM with polesitter Bill Auberlen joined by Dirk Werner and Bruno Spengler.

Meanwhile the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 came up a hard-luck second in GTD, Jens Klingmann losing the lead late but still able to bring home a great result co-driving with Ashley Freiberg and Bret Curtis.

The No. 25 BMW incurred an early race penalty of stop-and-hold plus two minutes for work in a closed pit and exiting the pit lane with the red light on. A later over boost penalty was their second crushing blow, an in-race penalty.

They fought back but were unable to overtake the race-winning No. 4 Corvette C7.R.

“I believe the M6 GTLM was the car to beat today, but we didn’t help ourselves to the win,” Auberlen said. “We had two penalties early on, but fought our way back up to the lead. An over boost penalty near the end of the race required another drive through the pits and, ultimately, we fell short, but this should not be considered anything close to a disappointing day for us.”

The rebuilt No. 100 BMW finished sixth in GTLM with Lucas Luhr, John Edwards and Kuno Wittmer.

Both of Turner’s M6 GT3s had a shot in GTD thanks to a typically brilliant Will Turner/Don Salama strategy special to stay out and hope for a caution to extend fuel mileage. Once the final caution fell inside of 20 minutes, the podium chances were secured.

Alas, Klingmann lost out late to Alessandro Balzan’s No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 but still hung on for second – a needed bounce back for that car after a violation at Daytona dropped the No. 96 to 22nd and last in class for a driver exceeding the maximum drive time.

“It was really tough and we didn’t know what to expect, but we saw in practice and qualifying that we had a strong car for this weekend,” Klingmann said. “We have worked on getting there. The race was tough and it was difficult to keep the car on track when it was pouring down.

“I drove the last three hours and our big goal was to stay on the lead lap, which I achieved. Then it was just maximum attack. We are still missing a little, so I couldn’t defend P1 in the last ten minutes, but we are happy with P2. For the new car, if you can make it on this track I am really positive for the short races.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.